David Moyes must look at the positive aspects of West Ham United’s deal to sign Watford defender Craig Dawson on an initial one-season loan, even though the centre-back can leave much to the imagination.
West Ham have completed the signing of Dawson on a season-long loan, bringing the 30-year-old to the London Stadium to add depth to Moyes’ backline having failed in an array of efforts to sign a centre-back this summer.
The Rochdale-born defender joins the Hammers following Watford’s relegation from the Premier League last season, as well as falling behind Francisco Sierralta and William Troost-Ekong in the pecking order at Vicarage Road under new boss Vladimir Ivic.
Dawson, who Watford signed from West Brom for £5.5million in 2019, is expected to end the Irons’ search for late signings to improve the backline and could see his temporary stint in east London turned permanent next summer with West Ham taking hold of a £2m option-to-buy.
Moyes could call on Dawson to make his Irons debut in Sunday’s London derby away to rivals Tottenham Hotspur, and the centre-back cannot wait to join his new teammates.
“I’m delighted to be here and really looking forward to being back in the Premier League and working with the manager and group of lads,” he told West Ham’s official website. “I’m really excited and looking ahead to the game at the weekend.”
While Dawson was clearly not Moyes’ preferred centre-half signing – having courted Burnley’s James Tarkowski, RC Strasbourg’s Mohamed Simakan, Fiorentina’s Nikola Milenkovic and Bayer Leverkusen’s Jonathan Tah among others – the Irons boss must see the positives that his arrival from Watford presents.
Dawson has vast top-flight experience from his time at Vicarage Road and West Brom, for whom he’s amassed 182 Premier League appearances for, while averaging 5.0 duels won, 3.8 clearances, 1.2 interceptions, 1.0 tackles, 25.0 accurate passes and 0.6 shots a game last season, per SofaScore.
His knowledge will come in handy as he makes up the numbers alongside Fabian Balbuena, Issa Diop and Angelo Ogbonna, while allowing Aaron Cresswell to focus efforts back at left-back having often been utilised at centre-half thus far this season.
And if Dawson does not feature regularly or impress in his time on the field, West Ham will be able to part company next season and explore signing other – potentially superior – options on a permanent basis than be committed to a player former Aston Villa boss Tim Sherwood suggested effectively retired on the field when embarrassed by Danny Ings in June.
“This almost retires Dawson,” Sherwood told Optus sport. “He was so bad, for someone who is such an experienced campaigner.”
Former West Ham boss Alan Curbishley was likewise unimpressed, adding: “[Ben] Foster tries to clear it, but what is so bad – forget that he throws it to Danny Ings – is Dawson’s defending.
“The gap is about three or four yards, and it stays three or four yards. He doesn’t go anywhere near him. He’s petrified of the pace.”
Moyes will be hoping that Dawson does not shy away from getting close to players who boast rapid pace should the 30-year-old feature against Tottenham on Sunday, with Spurs able to call on Heung-Min Son who tore Manchester United apart alongside Harry Kane last time out.